Thursday, May 28, 2009


Since Emerald Ash Borer has been found in Saint Paul, I've been getting lots of questions about what trees to plant. There are many options that I list below.

When choosing a tree, one of the most important things to keep in mind is selecting the right tree for the space. Trees not only grow up, but also grow wider. Make sure trees are not planted to close to buildings since they will get much larger. Select the right tree, for the right location for the soil conditions you have.

It's also important that we promote urban forest diversity. We should not be planting just one type of tree in our yards or city blocks filled with just one type of tree. It's more important than ever to mix it up and have a variety of trees.

For more information on planting a tree in clay soils, click here.

For information on planting a tree in sandy and loamy soils, click here.

Trees can loosely be put into two categories - shade and ornamental. Shade trees are those that as their name indicates, make great shade trees while the ornamental trees can give shade but are smaller in size.

Here are a few choices for each. This list is by no means complete. There are many more options than what I can list here.

Shade Trees
    Autumn Gold

    Autumn Blaze

    Green Mountain Sugar

Linden (Basswood)






Ornamental Trees

    Spring Snow


Pagoda Dogwood

Japanese Tree Lilac
    Ivory Silk


Hawthorn Thornless

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Container Vegetable Garden Harvest

Today I harvested the first vegetables from my garden. A handful of radish from my raised vegetable garden and lettuce plucked from some containers. There is nothing like fresh harvested produce from your own garden.

The lettuce in the pots was planted the same time as lettuce in the raised garden but was ready for eating at least one week earlier. The pots were next to the house where they stayed warmer during our cold nights. The lettuce in the pots shows that you can grow so many more things other then just tomatoes in pots. Peppers, eggplant, bush cucumbers, bush beans, etc. are all perfect container candidates. The key is to use a large pot - one that is 12" or larger in diameter, potting soil, full sun and plenty of water and fertilizer.

It's not by any means to late to start your own vegetables yet this year. If you can't grow your own, check out Farmer's Market in your area and buy locally grown.

Make your day a good one.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Frosty Nights

The average frost free date is May 15, but as we all know nothing about our weather is ever average. The plants that are most susceptible to damage are those crops that were grown in a greenhouse and are now outside. The partial list includes tomatoes, peppers, impatiens, geraniums, etc. Perennials (those plants that come back year after year) which are in your garden may get nipped by frost, but should recover in a few weeks.

With the threat of frost loaming tonight here are some tips for protecting your plants:
Cover early in the evening to trap in the heat.
Use bed sheets or other fabric coverings - plastic does not trap the heat in so avoid using it.
Cardboard boxes work well for protection.
Tent the fabric over the plants. Don't just throw it on top of plants.
Weigh the fabric down so it does not blow off during the night.
Hanging baskets should be brought indoors.
Planters that can easily be moved can also be brought indoors.
Don't uncover until the temps are close to 40 degrees in the morning.
Plants that are nipped by frost should be given a few days to recover and only then removed and replanted if they don't look like they are going to grow.
Fertilize in a week or so to help give the plants the energy to regrow.

Make your day a good one.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Container Gardens and More

It appears that it will be on the chilly side this weekend. That being said, I will be in my yard planting up some 30 or so containers. I like to mix it up and try different things each year and never be predictable. As I previously mentioned, I’m using lots of orange this year in my yard and gardens. I wanted cheery and bright and orange seems perfect. Listed below are seven ideas with pictures of different container gardens. Try something new this year, have some fun with your containers and don’t be predictable. Listed below are some container garden quick tips.

Also this weekend, I may try to make a quick trip to the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen. I try to get out there three times a year – spring, summer and fall. With the daffodils, crabapples and lilacs in bloom it should be a perfect time to take in all the color. Here is a link to their website.

Make your day a good one.

Seven Ideas for Container Gardens

The Monochromatic Container

Pick a color, any color and fill your container with flowers and plants all in the same color family. Nothing creates attention like color. The use of one color will be sure to get attention.

Decorative and Edible

Don't limit herb plants to being grouped together in one container. Mix parsley, rosemary, sage and oregano in all your sun-loving planters with flowers anywhere in your yard. Not only will your planters look great, you can use the herbs for cooking too.

All Foliage Planter

Create a different look in your outdoor planters by filling them will all foliage plants. Choose plants with leaves that are different shapes, textures and colors for a unique look. No flowers needed. The look is sure to draw attention.

Outdoor Succulent Garden

For a trendy touch of the southwest, fill your containers with succulents. Choose a low, squatty container and plant with an assortment of different succulents. Place in full sun and water infrequently. Rain will probably be enough to keep it looking great all summer and into the fall. Bring indoors before the first frost.

Indoor Plants Outdoors

All plants grow outdoors somewhere in the world, so why not plant them outdoors in containers and enjoy during our summer months? Great full sun plants include: crotons, ivy and ficus. For the shade, try ferns, peace lily and philodendrons.

Container Herbs and Vegetables

No space for a vegetable or herb garden? Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are easy to grow in large containers. Use a container that is 12” or larger and fill with potting soil. Keep in full sun. Water daily and fertilize weekly.

Perennial Beauty

Break away from the predictable. Shade loving perennials such as hosta and coral bells are perfect in containers. The foliage adds a rich texture and distinctive look. In September, plant the perennials in your garden and replace with garden mums.

Container Gardening Quick Tips

Use containers 10” or larger. Smaller containers dry out quickly during hot summer days.

Always use potting soil, replacing it every year.

Mix osmocote slow release fertilizer and Soil Moist in the soil before planting. The Soil Moist will help keep the soil from drying out. Osmocote will release nutrients into the soil every time you water. Some soil mixes already have this, so no need to add more.

Before planting your container gardens water the plants well while they are still in the paks or pots. Moisten the soil in the container too. This way, your first watering after planting will soak in more quickly and the soil will be evenly moist.

Choose plants from three different groups:
Upright plants – add height.
Bushy plants – fill in the middle and add fullness.
Trailing plants – hang over the sides of the container and add softness.

Select plants that can tolerate the sun or shade conditions you have.
Six or less hours of direct light is usually considered shade.
Six or more hours of direct light is usually considered sun.
The north and east sides of a home are considered shade.

Use a liquid fertilizer each week from late June on to help keep the containers growing and lush. Remember that containers have a limited amount of soil to hold nutrients and need fertilizer every single week.

Remove flowers once they start fading to help promote more growth and new flowers.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Your questions with answers

Here are a few recent email questions I received with answers.

Disclaimer: There are many products that often work for various yard and garden problems including organic solutions. I can’t list them all here. The products listed are ones that I’ve personally used or know someone else has used and had good results. Always read and follow label directions.

Is it OK or is it harmful to weed the garden after a rain when the ground is soft?

It is really not good to be walking on the soil when it is moist as this leads to soil compaction, which can make it harder for plants to grow. If you are just reaching in and pulling the weeds from say your lawn or a path that it is fine.

I saw you on KSTP TV talking about killing crabgrass. You mentioned something about corn gluten. What is it I need to get to kill crabgrass that is already growing?

Corn gluten prevents crabgrass from germinating and is put on right now. Crabgrass that is growing already can be treated with Bayer Crabgrass Killer or Ortho Weed B Gon Max plus Crabgrass.

Help!! My trees are lumpy. Two summers ago I noticed small lumps or warts on the leaves of two of my trees. Last year they were on a few more trees and covered the whole tree. There were so many of these "lumps" on the leaves that most of them became a curled up balls. They did not die, but they look rather unsightly and I think it will stunt new growth. I fear this year it may continue to spread to more of my trees. I am not sure if it is a disease, fungus, insect or a harmless part of nature. If there is something I can do to treat or prevent this please let me know.

It is a plant gall. It does not hurt the plant at all, it's just part of nature. Treatments are mostly ineffective and since it does no harm, why bother.

How do we get rid of voles in our backyard? Not moles but voles.

Molemax Mole and Vole Repellent is probably the best thing to try.

What is the best way to keep the deer and rabbits out of my garden?

Both are very difficult if not sometimes impossible to keep out. Fencing with very small holes in it can help with the rabbits. A few products that will help with the deer include:
Liquid Fence
Shotgun Deer and Rabbit Repellent
Repellex Deer and Rabbit Repellent

Everywhere I have hostas I have moss all over the ground, how can I get rid of the moss without killing the hostas and other plants and flowers?

Personally, I love moss in the garden. The only place I don't like it is on walkways or stepping-stones because it gets slippery. Bonide Moss Max can be used to treat it. Even with treatment it will keep coming back if you don't change the conditions. You can't change the shade or usually the moisture that moss thrives on. Since it also likes acidic soil conditions, adding some lime to the soil and making it more alkaline may (I emphasize may) keep it from growing back.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

To all the Mom's who read this, I wish you a great weekend and a Happy Mother's Day. You deserve it!

There is the window of opportunity in our yards and garden each spring where you can do almost anything. The time varies from year to year. Right now we are in the midst of that window.

Here is a partial list of everything that can be done:
dividing perennials
seeding a lawn
putting down lawn fertilizer
treating for dandelions
putting down crabgrass control
planting annuals and perennials
starting a vegetable garden
starting water fountains and water gardens
planting flower and vegetable seeds
starting a herb garden
mulching gardens and beds

About the only thing that I can think of right now that you should NOT be doing is any pruning of trees, shrubs and evergreens.

Make your day and weekend a good one.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Color Trends

Some time ago, I mentioned that the hottest trend in gardening is growing vegetables and herbs. I've witnessed this trend first hand and know there is going to be a lot of harvesting going on in a couple of months.

What about color trends with plants? Well, it should come as no surprise that yellow is the color that is "in" right now in garden plants. Some will say mimosa is the "in" color which has a little more orange in it.

Other colors that are in vogue right now include purple, blue and layered shades of green. For years, I have said that every garden should have the color blue in it since it brings the color of the sky into the garden. Plus, blue goes with all other colors in the garden, so don't forget to have blue in the garden.

In my own yard and planters, I'm going with vibrant and bright orange with a tropical touch. My planters are going to include bird of paradise plants with their large leaves, layers of orange colored annuals and a hint of yellow. I want bright, colorful and cheerful this year.

Now, there is no need to be trendy. Go with colors that make you feel good and colors you like. There are no rights and there are no wrongs. Just have fun and be creative and don't be afraid to try something new.

Make your day a good one.

Monday, May 4, 2009


What a weekend it was, in fact it was perfection! In my own yard, I finished putting down some fresh cypress mulch in the shrub beds, planted some herbs in the planters next to my house and filled all the pots and containers with fresh potting soil. I also dug up and moved a couple hosta plants.

I’ve had lots of people asking about planting tomatoes, peppers and warm weather annuals. I always remind people that the average last frost-free date is about May 15. We’ve had frost much later then that too. That being said, I checked the seven and ten-day forecasts and it appears that our night temperatures are going to stay pretty warm. I’m going to go out and start planting some warm weather plants in my yard knowing full well that it could still get very cold at night.

Make your day a good one.